Category Diary of Victor Buencamino

December 16, 1944

Bullets or shrapnel pierced our roof. Entered just opposite daughter Neneng’s chair in the dining room. Vic and I were seated at the table. Neneng, Dolly and the maid Emilia bringing in breakfast. A sudden noise, splashing and scattered timber splinter. Emilia crying.

Wounded slightly: Emilia, Neneng, Vic. Emilia: half a dozen superficial wounds of varying length from one to two inches on left forearm, outer side and on right leg. Neneng: small splintered wound on right eyelid and a larger one on right forearm. Vic: a burnt scar the size of a 20-cent piece. Emilia cried. Neneng thought she was blind and Vic limped, thinking he was severely wounded. Dolly, who herself had an eighth-of-an-inch scratch near her left ear, dressed them all…

Debris: the roof was pierced by two circular openings the size of 50-centavo pieces. One and one-half meter by 10 inch wide of the ceiling fell and numerous splintered wood all over the table, dining room and sala.

The bullet went through the floor.

Unexploded cannon bullet 3 meters back of the garage. It was 2-3/4 inch diameter and 12 inches long, I don’t know whether it’s still live. If it isn’t, I want to keep it as souvenir… The Japanese told a neighbor that the raiders hit an ammunition dump nearby and the explosion sent the bullets flying. Thus we are in the dangerous path of raiders en route to hit targets in San Juan, Quezon City, Wack Wack, Neilson, McKinley and Nichols.

 

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July 31, 1942

Read a Guerillero’s poem. Somebody left it in my desk. Perhaps there are guerilleros in the office:

SOMEDAY

Someday, someday, I’ll live again,

I’ll sing again,

A song with freedom’s ring again.

My heart I’ll give again,

I’ll love again.

Beneath the moon above again.

But now I must flight,

For country and right,

Guerillero is the name for me

And my job to strike for liberty.

For the foe at one dark command,

From sky and shore

Swept down on our native land

And it’s ours no more.

o come and tramp with me

To right this hideous wrong with me.

Oh come and camp with me

Up to the hills with me

 And strike with me a blow for liberty

July 27, 1942

A Japanese civilian came to my office. He spoke arrogantly, bluffingly, threateningly. He wanted one of my rent houses. I showed him that I was not afraid of him. I asked for his name. And when I started dialing for the Military Police, he backed out and changed his tune.

Told Lolita of the incident. She was very nervous.

July 25, 1942

Made arrangements with Dr. Sison for the sending of sick war prisoners to his hospital.

Gave him ₱1,000 as contribution for Philippine General Hospital. He was very pleased.

Sent a war prisoner to Sison who was suffering with malaria. The young veteran had three bullet wounds. I wrote the doctor: “Please see what you can do for this soldier. He did not die of three bullet wounds but he may die of malaria.”

Played tennis with Sison. Defeated him.

July 17, 1942

Due to the increasing cost of living, the following salary readjustment has been made:

1. From ₱50 down, increase to ₱50 for permanent employees, one year in the service, regardless of merit.

2. From ₱50 to ₱100 varying increases according to merit.

3. ₱100 to ₱150—stationary. But “dead wood” will be reduced.

4. Above ₱150, definitely no increase, except to very exceptional and meritorious cases.

5. Total percentage of increase of permanent employees, 7%. ₱20,000 is calculated monthly salary of permanent employees. About ₱50,000 is total monthly salary of Manila and provincial, permanent and temporary employees. Not more than 300 employees will get an increase.

6. Provincial men. Reduce salary by 20% but give a per diem of ₱1.00 a day.

7. Reasons for increase: (a) hard work, including Saturday afternoons and Sundays; (b) lowest paid corporation, comparatively, (c) conducive to efficiency.

There’s nothing like getting a raise!

July 16, 1942

Studying “darak” supply for horse-owners. After a survey among carromata owners, it was found out that two gantas of “darak” are being consumed by a horse daily or 1.9 kilos, say, 2 kilos a day. This food, however, is supplemented with a little copra-meal, grass and molasses.

Another Japanese will be assigned to take charge of Cabanatuan branch.

Couldn’t play tennis. Rained.

July 15, 1942

More war prisoners released, thank God. The prison camps are death holes.

Attended a meeting of restaurant owners at the Office of the Mayor.

I made the following suggestions subject to the approval of the Naric and subsequently of the Military Administration:

(a) Each restaurant owner shall state the name and address of their restaurant, the amount of rice required and the approximate number of people usually served.

(h) The Naric will study the location of these restaurants and then decide on the method of distribution.

(c) The City of Greater Manila will be tentatively divided into the north and south districts, making the Pasig River as the dividing line. The Naric will appoint one member of the association for each of the two districts, who is to take delivery of the rice, either at the Naric or at designated stations, in accordance with the decision of our Distribution Department.

(d) There shall be levied a fee per sack from each restaurant as a means of financing the situation, say, 10 centavos per bag, but that is up to the association.

(e) The above-mentioned must be presented as soon as possible to the Naric, which will in turn present them to the Military Administration for approval.

Cloudy day. Occasional thunderstorms. Thought they were cannons.

July 13, 1942

Asked Unding Alunan to find out if Arthur Fischer is in the concentration camp for Americans in Camp Tinio. I want to help him.

Talked to Naric agents. Told them to impress upon the minds of distributors and these in turn to tell the leaders, that the Naric will conduct a house-to-house investigation in conjunction with the police. Neighborhood association leaders are urged to ask association members to correct misstatements in their reports, regarding the size of their families.

I reminded the agents that ample warnings have been given and so those caught doctoring their family cards will be punished. I made it clear to them that these orders do not come from the Naric, but from the Military Administration.

Placards will be distributed in each station to inform the people as to distribution hours in each station. Notwithstanding announcement of such hours, distributors must remain their stations at least until 3 p.m. if one or more leaders fail to get their sacks of rice during distribution hours. Naric trucks arrive at these stations at about 12:45 p.m.

In all cases, distributors must wait for the Japanese supervisor to turn in the coupons for the day before closing up. The idea behind all these instructions is to favor the leaders and not to inconvenience them. Mr. Inada suggested the formation of an Association of Rice Distributors to make arrangements collectively for their needs, such as push carts, tarpaulins and cargadores and then they can deliver rice to the leaders of the Neighborhood Associations covered by their respective associations.

Sulit believes this plan is impractical. Push carts which are in business are the most economical means of transporting rice from station to residence of leaders, he stated, and present arrangement is satisfactory to leaders and distributors. Furthermore, Neighborhood Associations are not circumscribed around distribution stations, he pointed out. Sulit said that one such association was organized two days ago in Calle Andalucia.

Very tired. I need a vacation but it is useless to broach the question. The answer will be “not now.”

July 12, 1942

A house-to-house inspection is being planned to check up if the reported number of family members tallies with actual facts. People who have increased the members of their household maliciously, will be punished accordingly.

Played tennis with Vargas. Defeated him. He seems to be very tired and worried.

July 10, 1942

Thinking of Pagu. At a dinner at the Hotel with Major Nishimura, I asked about Pagu. The interpreter said in broken Spanish: “Ese para muerto ya” and he made a gesture with his hands as though slitting his throat. I got pale. I said: “But he is a very good man. He is very needed in the Naric. And what he did was nothing. Everybody had these leaflets. I also.” The interpreter laughed.

July 9, 1942

Invited to a pancitada by Dr. Gregorio San Agustin at a dinner by the Bureau of Animal Industry to some 20 Japanese veterinarians.

Fukada, Naric Supervisor-de-Facto, notified me that all goods of the National Trading Corporation at 1010 Azcarraga had been taken by the Army.

Told Philip to stop listening to foreign broadcasts. You can’t trust the servants.

July 8, 1942

Mr. Toyama, a very nice, educated Japanese, employee of Mitsui, will teach the family Japanese, twice a week in the evenings. My son Vic refused to study. He said “It’ll be a dead language, after this war.” I told him: “You don’t lose anything by studying Japanese.”

Naric Inspection Division will now survey the makers of “Puto” and “bibingka” on a large scale. Naric will sell binlid directly to those large-scale makers.

Went home early. Listened to KGEI but there was too much static.

July 4, 1942

No parades, no celebrations—in public.

Cozy little parties, drinks, dancing, singing—in private.

The Filipinos have learned to celebrate on July 4th.

More trouble from Mr. Inada. Mr. Felix Gonzalez, formerly Bulletin reporter, presented his resignation. Said he couldn’t stand Inada’s arrogance. Inada shouted at Gonzalez for not knowing mess hall regulations. Gonzalez answered him in an equally strong way. Inada remained silent.

Some people were expecting American planes to drop one-ton bouquets.

Told the boys in the office: If any Japanese in this office hits you, hit them back. If they bring you to Fort Santiago, I’ll go with you…

Conching’s birthday. The family had lauriat.

July 3, 1942

Am writing a letter to Fort Santiago requesting the release of Pagulayan and Unson. Will give the following reasons:

(1) They are good, useful men.

(2) They have excellent records in the government service.

(3) Whatever propaganda they disseminated has been checked.

(4) They have been more than sufficiently penalized.

I also offered the guarantee Pagu’s good conduct with my life.

Lolita praying for their release. She sent Pagu a medal of Santa Teresita.

Played tennis and bowling.

June 30, 1942

Lifted my telephone, overheard a conversation:

“Don’t you recognize me?”

“Who… who are you?”

“Guess.”

“I can’t imagine. If you don’t tell me who you are, I will have to close the phone. I do not speak to strangers.”

“It’s me darling, it’s me. Teddy.”

“Darling… Teddy… you’re back… oh, I’m so happy.”

“I’m so happy too. I never dreamt I’d be able to hear your voice again.”

“Tell me how you are? Are you all right? Have you also got malaria?”

“Yes, once in a while. Had an attack yesterday. But let’s not talk about myself. How are you? Have you put on weight? Do you still play tennis? Can… can I see you tomorrow?”

“One at a time, Ted. Yes, I’m alright. I lost weight. And of course, you can see me tomorrow. First thing in the morning. And you’re going to have lunch with me. And by the way, bring Johnnie along, too.”

“Oh Johnnie… why, he… he…”

“Don’t tell me that Johnnie…”

“Yes… while on patrol… Please tell Nena. He told me that in case he doesn’t come back to tell Nena he was always thinking of her. He seemed to have a premonition.”

“How can I tell her that?”

‘‘That was his last wish.”

“Is there no chance of his being alive?”

“I’m afraid not, besides… oh, well, we had better talk about this in your house. Not over the telephone.”

I’ll wait for you tomorrow, then.”

“By the way, Mary … do you … do you still love me? Or is there someone else?”

I closed the phone. That would be eavesdropping!

 

June 28, 1942

Tears.

Tears of joy.

Mothers embracing sons as they walked out of the prison camp in O’Donnell.

It was the most touching sight ever seen in this country. The defeated troops have been allowed to return to their homes.

The Tribune carries the picture of a Filipino private with his USAFFE cap walking with a piece of stick on one hand, to support his thin body. On his haggard face, was a faint smile. He had done his duty to his country. His family surrounded him and his mother was supporting his left hand.

There were tragedies too.

Some boys died on the train on their way home. Release had come too late.

One mother arrived in camp very happy. She brought a jitney for her son. When his name was called, there was no son. The mother was worried. One soldier said: “He just died, madam.”

Even Japanese soldiers watching the meeting between parents and sons who had served their country shed tears.

War is blood and tears.

 

June 26, 1942

Guerillas have answered the Japanese warning. They posted bills all over downtown Manila exhorting the Japanese to surrender to them.

June 25, 1942

Not all the people have surrendered to the Japanese. Guerilla activities continue unabated in the hills. The Japanese have issued a warning to all guerillas to surrender by the end of June 1942. The warning ended with the exhortation: “Don’t repent too late by continuing your futile resistance and letting this best chance for you to surrender slip by.”

Mr. Takizawa found a guerilla pass on his desk. Attached was a letter from a guerillero. “You are a good Japanese. So use this pass to save your life when the time comes.”

 

June 23, 1942

People do not seem to understand how to organize a neighborhood association. They don’t read the instructions carefully. When they don’t get their rice, they complain.

The heads of families in a certain neighborhood may formally organize themselves into a Neighborhood Association. An association generally consists of 23 heads of families. Membership, however, could be more or less, provided that the total number of dependents will be at least 92 persons.

These are the steps:

1. A group of about 92 persons or more living close together may unite themselves to form an association, to be considered later as a “Neighborhood Association.”

2. The members of an association will be composed of the heads of the different families who will select a leader.

3. The members will certify to the Naric their chosen leader.

4. Every head of the family will be requested to present his residence certificate or his ration card to the chosen leader in order to be filed with the Naric.

5. The chosen leader will prepare all the necessary papers to be submitted to the Naric.

6. Every head of the family will certify as to the number of his dependents, such certification to be countersigned and certified correct by the leader of the association.

7. As soon as all the papers are completed and prepared, the same will be presented to the Naric for necessary investigation and final approval.

8. If the application is approved by the Naric, the association is legitimately formed and is entitled to receive ration.

The ideal Neighborhood Association is that which consists of 23 heads of families with four persons in each family, or a total of 92 persons.

On the basis of 300 grams per person per day, those 92 persons will be an ideal number to share equally one cavan of rice, since one cavan contains 23 gantas or more, and one ganta weighs 2.4 kilos.

If 300 grams will be allowed each person daily, a family of four persons will receive a ration of 1,200 grams or 1.2 kilos daily, or 2.4 kilos every other day.

Saw Japanese troops feeding their horses with rice.

 

June 22, 1942

Japanese authorities announced that the use of traveling pass by the public is no longer required.

Saw a Japanese officer’s car crash against a rig. The Japanese got a hold of the “cochero,” boxed his face, kicked his body and whipped the horse. The cochero lay on the street unconscious, his face bleeding. People looked on sullenly, angrily.

Somebody whispered. “Someday… someday…”